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20 Natural Foods With Near Zero Calorie Counts For Effective Weight Management

Thursday, 11 August 2016  |  Admin

Here is a handy list of a wide variety of 20 of the best foods that have a near zero calorie content.

The theory is that because they are so low in calories, you can burn off that small amount just eating some of them - or doing the washing up afterwards! And even if you don’t manage to do that, the inherent low calorie count will avoid you adding any noticeable amounts to your daily total. So everything is effectively near or at zero :-)

It is also no coincidence that they are all fruit and vegetables, proving that natural is best. The wide variety here will enable anyone wishing to lower their calorie count to do so with an enjoyably tasty and varied diet. Whilst none of them will usually make a meal on their own, they can easily become part of your recommended five a day and there are countless ways they can be used in healthy low calorie dishes. With each food we have given a few pointers about how to choose the best quality and some tempting serving ideas that you might not have tried. The serving suggestions don't include full recipes but they can easily be found online.

Many of these foods will also make significant contributions to your other essential daily dietary requirements, so they are all good for you as well as lowering your calorie totals.

All calorie counts shown are per raw 100mg of the traditionally edible parts of the foods. Fruit count is without peel. For each food type, the calorie count is an accepted average across all commonly used varieties.

Image of cucumber from a list of 20 foods with a near zero calories count

1. Cucumber - 15kcal per 100gm

Did You Know...
Generally eaten raw, cucumbers can be sautéed and served warm with a little chopped dill as a side dish.

Get The Best Ones
Choose firm, well shaped cucumbers with dark green colour that are heavy relative to their size.

Storage Tips
Refrigerate cucumbers in a plastic bag for up to 1 week.

Essential Nutrition
As well as being low in calories, cucumbers do not contain any saturated fats, sodium or cholesterol. They are a good source of vitamin C.

Here are some serving suggestions with cucumber that you might not have tried...

Add finely diced, peeled and seeded cucumber to chicken, shrimp or tuna salad.
Mix in thin slices of peeled, seeded cucumber for a cool, smooth addition to your coleslaw.
Make a deliciously different chunky salad with cucumbers, tomato and avocado.

Image of celery from a list of 20 foods with a near zero calories count

2. Celery - 16kcal per 100gm

Did You Know...
The wild form of celery, known as smallage has a bitter taste and was used by the Romans as a seasoning. The celery we know today was developed by breeding the bitterness out of smallage during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Get The Best Ones
Choose straight, rigid celery stalks with fresh leaves. Avoid pithy, woody or limp stalks. They should smell fresh, not musty.

Storage Tips
Refrigerate celery in a plastic bag for a week ore more.

Essential Nutrition
As well as being low in calories, celery does not contain any saturated fats or cholesterol and is low in sodium. It is a good source of vitamins A and C.

Here are some serving suggestions with celery that you might not have tried...

Load the stalks with low-fat cream cheese and sprinkle with paprika.
Get more nutrition and a bit of crunch in your soups and stews by adding chopped celery.
You can eat the leaves too - instead of throwing them away, use them in soups, stuffing, salad, and other cooked dishes.

Image of tomatoes from a list of 20 foods with a near zero calories count

3. Tomatoes - 17kcal per 100gm

Did You Know...
Tomatoes belong to the same plant family as nightshade and they were mistakenly thought to be poisonous until the nineteenth century! There is also some controversy about whether tomatoes are fruit or veg. Botanically they are fruit but are accepted by many as a vegetable.

Get The Best Ones

Choose tomatoes with bright, shiny skins and firm flesh.

Storage Tips
Store at room temperature away from direct sunlight, for use within 1 week after ripe. Tomatoes taste best if not refrigerated; refrigerate only if you can’t use them before they spoil.

Essential Nutrition
As well as being low in calories, tomatoes do not contain any saturated fats or cholesterol and are very low in sodium. They are a good source of vitamins A, C and potassium.

Here are some serving suggestions with tomatoes that you might not have tried...

Combine chopped tomato, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard and some of your favourite herbs such as basil and thyme in a blender for a healthy tomato vinaigrette. 
For a quick tomato salad, quarter tomatoes and marinate with onion in a low-fat vinaigrette and add some sliced cucumber for an extra crunch.
Stuff a tomato with low-fat cottage cheese or chicken salad. Use the removed pulp as part of the salad.

Image of asparagus from a list of 20 foods with a near zero calories count

4. Asparagus - 20kcal per 100gm

Did You Know...

Asparagus folklore credits these delicious green spears with everything from curing toothaches to being a reproductive tonic!

Get The Best Ones

Choose odourless asparagus stalks with dry, tight tips. Avoid limp or wilted stalks.

Storage Tips
Refrigerate asparagus for up to four days by wrapping the ends of the stalks in wet paper towel and placing in a plastic bag.

Essential Nutrition

As well as being low in calories, asparagus does not contain any saturated fats, cholesterol or sodium. It is a good source of vitamins A, C and B12 (folate).

Here are some serving suggestions with asparagus that you might not have tried...

Add steamed pieces of asparagus to a cheese omelette and garnish with cherry tomatoes.
Place asparagus spears on a medium-high heat grill coated with olive oil spray and cook for about 5-8 minutes until tender, turning occasionally.
Spread low fat soft cheese on whole wheat crackers and top with a steamed or grilled asparagus head as a starter or an afternoon snack.

Image of zucchini/courgettes from a list of 20 foods with a near zero calories count

5. Courgettes (also known as Zucchini) - 21kcal per 100gm

Did You Know...
The flowers of courgette plants are also edible.

Get The Best Ones
Choose courgettes with a slightly prickly, but shiny skin. The skin should be firm and free of cuts and bruises.

Storage Tips
Store courgettes in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days. Do not wash them until you are ready to use them. Cooked courgettes can also be stored in the refrigerator but should be used within 2 days.

Essential Nutrition
As well as being low in calories, courgettes do not contain any saturated fats, cholesterol or sodium. They are a good source of vitamins C.

Here are some serving suggestions with courgettes that you might not have tried...
Add courgettes to any casserole or lasagne for easy extra nutrition without extra calories.
Add puréed courgettes to 3/4 of a jar of supermarket spaghetti sauce. This will thicken your sauce and decrease the percentage of sodium.
Grate courgettes and form into patties just as you would potato cakes. Using olive oil, lightly brown them in a pan or grill.

Image of mushrooms from a list of 20 foods with a near zero calories count

6. Mushrooms - 22kcal per 100gm

Did You Know...
All mushrooms grow from spores that are each all but invisible to the naked eye (as small as 1/100th of a millimetre!) and can usually only be seen when released in vast numbers by a fruiting mushroom.

Get The Best Ones
Choose well shaped mushrooms with firm texture. Avoid ones with spots or visual wetness that may signal they are past their best freshness.

Storage Tips
Refrigerate mushrooms in their original purchase container or paper bag for up to 1 week.

Essential Nutrition
As well as being low in calories, mushrooms do not contain any saturated fats or cholesterol and are very low in sodium. They are a good source of riboflavin, niacin, copper and pantothenate.

Here are some serving suggestions with mushrooms that you might not have tried...
For a healthy snack try some delicious mushroom chips dipped in a warm pesto sauce.
Swap the meat in your burger for the meaty texture of a grilled Portabella mushroom with your favourite condiments.
Sauté fresh mushrooms and store them in the freezer for up to a month. Caution: fresh, uncooked mushrooms should never be frozen.

Image of cabbage from a list of 20 foods with a near zero calories count

7. Cabbage - 25kcal per100gm

Did You Know...
The cabbage family is huge, with over 400 varieties. The most familiar ones are those with tightly packed leaves that are usually red, white or green.

Get The Best Ones
Choose firm cabbage heads with compact, bright and crisp leaves that are heavy for their size.

Storage Tips
Refrigerate cabbage for up to 7 days.

Essential Nutrition
As well as being low in calories, cabbages do not contain any saturated fats or cholesterol and are very low in sodium. They are a good source of vitamin C.

Here are some serving suggestions with cabbage that you might not have tried...
Cabbage has a mild taste and can be added to any stir fry.
Polish traditional Golumpki - mix spices with beef or pork, separate into small balls, wrap in cabbage and bake at 350°F/180°C for an hour.
Irish traditional Colcannon - a combination of cooked cabbage, potatoes, and onions mashed into patties and browned in the oven at 425°F/220°C for about 15 minutes.

Image of turnip from a list of 20 foods with a near zero calories count

8. Turnip - 28kcal per 100gm

Did You Know...
Turnips come in all shapes and colours, from round to cylindrical and rose to black. Although most people eat them cooked, they can also be eaten raw.

Get The Best Ones
Select pearly, heavy turnips without soft spots and with fresh leaves if still attached. Small to medium ones are sweetest.

Storage Tips
Store turnips in the refrigerator in a plastic bag for only a few days as they will get bitter with prolonged storage.

Essential Nutrition
As well as being low in calories, turnips do not contain any saturated fats or cholesterol and are very low in sodium. They are a good source of vitamin C.

Here are some serving suggestions with turnips that you might not have tried...
Coleslaw with a difference - use shredded turnip instead of cabbage the next time you make coleslaw.
Get an extra boost of nutrition and flavour by adding turnips to soup or stew at the same cooking stage as you would potatoes.
Mash them up - don’t just settle for mashed potatoes. Mashed turnips add a unique flavour on their own or with mashed potatoes.

Image of cauliflower from a list of 20 foods with a near zero calories count

9. Cauliflower - 29kcal per 100gm

Did You Know...
Not all cauliflower is white There are now a number of alternative colours - two popular ones are purple and orange.

Get The Best Ones
Choose cauliflower with a compact, tight creamy white (or bright coloured) head and bright green, firmly attached leaves. Avoid those with brown spots or loose sections that are spread out or have limp leaves.

Storage Tips
Refrigerate cauliflower in a plastic bag up to 5 days.

Essential Nutrition
As well as being low in calories, cauliflower does not contain any saturated fats or cholesterol and is very low in sodium. It is a good source of vitamin C and folate.

Here are some serving suggestions with cauliflower that you might not have tried...
Healthy fritters - make a batter, dip cauliflower florets in it and bake at 400° F/205° C until crisp.
Try mixing cauliflower with fennel, white beans and a tangy dressing for a salad with a delicious blend of flavours and textures.
Hearty and healthy cauliflower soup - add some broth, vegetables of your choice and seasonings.

Image of lemons from a list of 20 foods with a near zero calories count

10. Lemons - 29kcals per 100gm

Did You Know...
Lemons are technically berries. They used to be so rare that kings presented them to each other as gifts.

Get The Best Ones
Choose lemons with firm, thin, smooth skin, heavy for their size.

Storage Tips
Refrigerate lemons for up to 2 weeks.

Essential Nutrition
As well as being low in calories, lemons do not contain any saturated fats or cholesterol and are sodium free. They are a very good source of vitamin C.

Here are some serving suggestions with lemons that you might not have tried...
Sprinkling lemon juice on other fruits can prevent them turning brown.
Lemon juice and hot water is good for a sore throat as it is naturally anti-bacterial.
Try substituting lemon juice in some recipes that call for vinegar.

Image of watermelon from a list of 20 foods with a near zero calories count

11. Watermelon - 30kcal per 100gm

Did You Know...
The first recorded watermelon harvest occurred nearly 5,000 years ago in Egypt. Watermelons are now grown in 96 countries worldwide.

Get The Best Ones
Choose symmetrical watermelons with dried stems and yellowish undersides that are heavy for their size.

Storage Tips
Store whole watermelons at room temperature. Refrigerate cut watermelons in an airtight container for use within 5 days.

Essential Nutrition
As well as being low in calories, watermelons do not contain any saturated fats or cholesterol and are sodium free. They are a very good source of vitamins A and C.

Here are some serving suggestions with watermelons that you might not have tried...
Watermelon pickles - save, slice, and soak the pale green rinds of the fruit in white vinegar and cinnamon for a snack you can enjoy anytime.
Use seedless watermelon instead of strawberries in your blender, along with fresh cauliflower florets, for the ultimate thirst-quencher.
Go pink with a chilled bowl of watermelon soup. Simple to make with creamy Greek yogurt, tart lemon and lime, and a spoonful of honey.

Image of grapefruit from a list of 20 foods with a near zero calories count

12. Grapefruit - 33kcal per 100gm

Did You Know...
The name grapefruit is derived from how it grows on the tree, clustered like bunches of grapes.

Get The Best Ones
Choose grapefruits with thin, smooth and firm blemish free skins that are heavy for their size.

Storage Tips
Store grapefruits at room temperature for 1 week or refrigerated for 2 to 3 weeks.

Essential Nutrition
As well as being low in calories, grapefruits do not contain any saturated fats or cholesterol and are sodium free. They are a very good source of vitamins A and C.

Here are some serving suggestions with grapefruit that you might not have tried...
Take a sweet grapefruit and combine it with avocado and coriander and you will have a deliciously different salad.
Combine grapefruits with oranges to make a refreshingly different marmalade that is a good way to use up bruised or squashy fruits.
Combine refreshing grapefruit with creamy avocado and mango to make a delicious and filling fruit salad bursting with flavour.

Important health note: It is well known that grapefruit and grapefruit juice can sometimes adversely effect the actions of some prescription medications. If you are taking any medications prescribed by a health professional, always check the leaflet for grapefruit compatibility before consuming this fruit or its juice. If in any doubt don't use grapefruit and consult a health professional.

Image of broccoli from a list of 20 foods with a near zero calories count

13. Broccoli - 34kcal per 100gm

Did You Know...
Broccoli originated in Italy and has been eaten there since the time of the ancient Romans in the 6th Century BC.

Get The Best Ones
Choose odourless broccoli heads with tight, bluish-green florets.

Storage Tips
Refrigerate broccoli for up to 5 days.

Essential Nutrition
As well as being low in calories, broccoli does not contain any saturated fats or cholesterol and is low in sodium. It is a very good source of vitamins C and is high in folates. It is also a good source of dietary fibre and potassium.

Here are some serving suggestions with broccoli that you might not have tried...
Blanche broccoli florets and add to your favourite whole wheat pasta salad before chilling.
Add some colour and extra nutrition - toss some broccoli into a quiche or fold a handful into your omelette.
Broccoli is a great addition to any stir fry, adding nutrition, flavour and texture.

Image of onions from a list of 20 foods with a near zero calories count

14. Onions - 40kcal per 100gm

Did You Know...
Onions have been a part of the human diet for more than 7,000 years. Archaeologists have discovered traces of onions in domestic environments dating back to 5000 B.C.

Get The Best Ones
Choose onions that are firm and dry with bright, smooth outer skins.

Storage Tips
Store whole onions in a cool, dark, well ventilated place for use within 4 weeks in a string or fabric bag (not in a plastic bag). Refrigerate cut onions in an airtight container for use within 2-3 days.

Essential Nutrition
As well as being low in calories, onions do not contain any saturated fats or cholesterol and are low in sodium. They are a good source of vitamin C and dietary fibre.

Here are some serving suggestions with onions that you might not have tried...
Chopped and braised in balsamic vinegar, onions make an excellent appetiser on bread or crackers.
Go for a touch of Indian cuisine and use minced onion to provide the base for thick sauces.
Instead of the standard onion dip mix, try a caramelized onion and curry dip along with chips or crudités.

Image of carrots from a list of 20 foods with a near zero calories count

15. Carrots - 41kcal per 100gm

Did You Know...
Carrots are not always orange - there are also varieties that are purple, white, red or yellow. Carrots were the first vegetable to be canned commercially.

Get The Best Ones
Choose well-shaped, smooth, firm, crisp carrots with deep colour and fresh, green tops. Avoid soft, wilted or split carrots.

Storage Tips
Refrigerate carrots in a plastic bag with tops removed for up to 2 weeks.

Essential Nutrition
As well as being low in calories, carrots do not contain any saturated fats or cholesterol and are low in sodium. They are a good source of vitamins A and C.

Here are some serving suggestions with carrots that you might not have tried...
Blend carrots, pineapple juice, low-fat yogurt and honey into a bright orange power smoothie.
Add some crunch and get some extra vitamin A and C by topping your favourite salad with sliced or grated carrots.
Many people forget that carrots are a healthy mobile snack anytime, anywhere. Just peel and eat raw.

Image of beetroot from a list of 20 foods with a near zero calories count

16. Beetroot - 43kcal per 100gm

Did You Know...
Beetroot has one of the highest sugar contents of any vegetable at about 10% but it is released slowly into the body rather than the sudden sugar rush that results from eating chocolate.

Get The Best Ones
Choose beetroot with firm, deep red smooth skins and non-wilted leaves if still attached. Smaller ones are more tender.

Storage Tips
Remove leaves, leaving about an inch of stem. Use leaves as greens - raw or cooked. Refrigerate roots in a plastic bag for up to 3 weeks.

Essential Nutrition
As well as being low in calories, beetroot does not contain any saturated fats or cholesterol and is low in sodium. It is an excellent source of folates.

Here are some serving suggestions with beetroot that you might not have tried...
Try oven roasted beetroot - it intensifies the flavour and colour which makes it even more delicious- and it keeps for up to a week in the refrigerator (do not freeze!).
Brighten up your vegetable soup or minestrone by adding finely diced beetroot - and some of the leaves.
Ever tried beetroot juice? Use a juicer and combine the juice of a small beetroot with 1 cup of apple juice and/or orange juice.

Image of brussels sprouts from a list of 20 foods with a near zero calories count

17. Brussels Sprouts - 43kcal per 100gm

Did You Know...
The forerunners to modern Brussels sprouts were believed to have been first cultivated in Ancient Rome. Brussels sprouts as they are now known were grown possibly as early as the 13th century in what is now Belgium.

Get The Best Ones
Choose firm, compact, bright green Brussels sprouts heads. Where available, buying on the stalk is always the best option.

Storage Tips
Refrigerate Brussels sprouts in a plastic bag up to 1 week.

Essential Nutrition
As well as being low in calories, Brussels sprouts do not contain any saturated fats or cholesterol and are low in sodium. They are a good source of vitamin C, dietary fibre and folates.

Here are some serving suggestions with Brussels sprouts that you might not have tried...
Try hot candied Brussels sprouts. Defrost frozen sprouts, dust with brown sugar and a pinch of salt and microwave for 5 or 6 minutes.
Halve Brussels sprouts and steam until soft. Top with grated low fat Cheddar cheese.
Add Brussels sprouts to your stir-fry – maybe instead of cabbage - delicious with sweet onion, carrot, and peas.

Image of oranges from a list of 20 foods with a near zero calories count

18. Oranges - 47kcal per 100gm

Did You Know...
Sweet oranges were mentioned in Chinese literature as far back as 314 BC. Orange trees are now believed to be the most cultivated fruit tree in the world.

Get The Best Ones
Choose oranges with firm, smooth skins that are heavy for their size.

Storage Tips
Store oranges at room temperature for 1-2 days. Refrigerate for 1-2 weeks.

Essential Nutrition
As well as being low in calories, oranges do not contain any saturated fats, cholesterol or sodium. They are a very good source of vitamin C and dietary fibre.

Here are some serving suggestions with oranges that you might not have tried...
Healthy fruit salad - add oranges slices with mango, strawberries, a dash of fresh squeezed lime juice and honey - topped with low fat yogurt.
Start your day right - oranges slices added to breakfast oatmeal or other cereal is a nutritious way to begin your day.
Make your own chocolate orange - dip slices into melted chocolate, let it harden in the fridge and enjoy - but watch the chocolate calories!

Image of kale from a list of 20 foods with a near zero calories count

19. Kale - 49kcal per 100gm

Did You Know...
Kale is a member of the cabbage family that is very popular in Northern Europe. It was so popular in Scotland that being invited to “come to kale” was a Celtic invitation to dinner.

Get The Best Ones
Choose dark coloured kale bunches with small to medium leaves. Avoid brown or yellow leaves.

Storage Tips
Store kale in a plastic bag in the coldest part of the fridge (not the freezer compartment!) for 3-5 days.

Essential Nutrition
As well as being low in calories, kale does not contain any saturated fats or cholesterol and is low in sodium. It is an excellent source of vitamins A and C as well as a good source of calcium and potassium.

Here are some serving suggestions with kale that you might not have tried...
Steam kale and season with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper for a tangy side dish.
Add another shade of green with chopped fresh or frozen kale in your vegetable or bean soups.
Chopped kale leaves can be added to a stir-fry instead of - or as well as - the traditional cabbage.

Image of apples from a list of 20 foods with a near zero calories count

20. Apples - 52kcal per 100gm

Did You Know...
About 1,200 known varieties of apples are grown in the UK. More than 7,500 varieties are grown worldwide. China grows 37 million tons a year - that’s about 40% of all the world’s apple crop!!

Get The Best Ones
Choose firm, shiny, smooth-skinned apples with intact stems. They should smell fresh and not musty.

Storage Tips
Refrigerate apples in a plastic bag away from strong-odoured foods and use within 3 weeks.

Essential Nutrition
As well as being low in calories, apples do not contain any saturated fats, cholesterol or sodium. They are an excellent source of dietary fibre.

Here are some serving suggestions with apples that you might not have tried...
Try baked apple chips as a great alternative to greasy potato chips. They’re easy to make with only two ingredients: apples and cinnamon.
Give your coleslaw a make over. Use cabbage with Granny Smith apples and cranberries, and replaces some of the mayo with healthier Greek yogurt.
Get sweet and a little savoury all in one dish. Roasted sweet potatoes and apples are a perfect side dish for just about any dinner.

Additional information about any of the serving suggestions mentioned in this blog can easily be found online.

Thanks to www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org for most source material.

Article updated April 2017.

About The Author

David Watkins is a long-serving senior member of the management of Tonvara Natural Supplements, a family owned company based in the heart of the Sussex countryside in the UK.